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Homeowners beware

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

August 11, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Your property tax bill might be going up by several hundred dollars after Governor Perdue froze $428 million in a homeowners relief grant program.

If you currently have homestead exemption, you get the grant.  In Dougherty County, that amounts to more than $300. Money that may be tacked on your bill if the governor doesn't remove the freeze. 

If you own a home in Georgia and qualify for homestead exemption, you also get a tax credit from the state of Georgia.  But that credit is in jeopardy due to a freeze by the Governor.

"He's holding it, essentially, and the General Assembly will meet in January and make a determination whether they are going to cut this from the past year's budget and not appropriate it,"  said  Dougherty COunty Tax Director Denver Hooten.

The credit basically shaves off $8,000 of the taxable amount of your home.

In Dougherty County, that's a little more than $300, but it varies from county to county, depending on the tax rate.

If the Governor doesn't remove the freeze on the homeowners grant, the local governments in Dougherty county will either be out almost $5 Million, or that money may be placed back on your bill.

"We would be faced with the decision of having to either just eat it, or send out separate bills for that amount, which is a little over $300 per homestead exemption," said County Commissioner Lamar Hudgins.

"If they don't appropriate these funds, and they do decide to abolish it, in the next session, that will be a shortfall to all these entities, in other words almost $5 million would not be coming to Dougherty County from the state."

For clarity, the credit is separate from Homestead Exemption.  That will still apply regardless of the freeze.

When your tax bills are sent out in the next couple of months, the credit will be applied to your taxes. But, if the state doesn't decide to appropriate the money, you may be billed for that credit later on.

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